Stimulus, Bail-out, Safety Net

As with so many others, I read with a blend of amusement and disgust (mostly the latter) the latest attempts of the Washington Elite to “help” me. And by me, I am referring to a recently-laid off 50 year old male with a partner and a mortgage I actually qualified to get, trying to take my part-time business full-time. Nothing I’ve seen so far seems to actually apply to me. Perhaps once severance runs out and I’m reduced to Unemployment Insurance, spent all my savings, and missed a mortgage payment I can become qualified to be “rescued“.

Anyway, trying to banish such negative thoughts I decided to come up with a better Plan. I may not be the first to suggest the following, but they seem to me to have more chance of succeeding than anything I’ve seen so far.

Plan #1.
Send every household that qualified for the previous $600 Stimulus Cheque $500.00 in Gift Cards. Make them like the cards used for Rebates offered by all sorts of manufacturers now; not able to get cash from an ATM, with a 90 (or better, 120) day expiration, accepted wherever Credit or Debit Cards are accepted. Sure, there will be some administrative overhead- but overhead and waste are inevitable and are still getting some money into the system

Option “B” – instead of generic Cards, send out pre-numbered forms (printed like cheques to prevent photocopies) that allow each eligible household to select their $500 as assorted $25 Gift Cards from major retailers and restaurants… again, not redeemable for cash. Offer a wide-enough assortment and people will use them; at places where business is down and staff faces layoffs. I would look at a few from Olive Garden, plus Sears, Target, HomeDepot, FYE and similar stores. Don’t tell me they wouldn’t be thrilled to offer a nice discount to the government on such a bulk purchase!

Plan #2.
Identify the 50 million households with the lowest income. Send each one a $10,000 tax-free gift. Cost of payments; $500 billion. Certainly in line with other Bail Out plans. Sure, some of us might save a portion of that, but I can’t believe we won’t spend most of it on fancy stuff like groceries, mortgage (or rent), and a few might go crazy and spend some on a summer vacation one state over.

And what about the portion we decide to save? Why, we’ll stick that in our bank account where those troubled institutions will use it to ‘shore up’ those nasty balance sheets. And I figure they’re just as likely to lend that out as they are any other government money…. win-win.

Well, time for me to get ready for a job interview… ’cause my small business isn’t really covering my mortgage right now.

© Copyright 2009 By Brian Gryphon

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